Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive or record live broadcast television programmes then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

No TV Licensing Search Warrants Granted in Major Scottish Cities

Over the last few weeks the TV Licensing Blog and its readers have been engaged in a campaign asking the Scottish Court Service for information about TV Licensing search warrant applications.

The BBC has previously admitted that the success of its TV Licensing enforcement operation relies heavily on the public perception that detector vans are effective and widespread, evaders face punitive fines and search warrants are granted whenever TV Licensing clicks its fingers. We know, as a matter of fact, that all three of those BBC-propagated rumours are farcically untrue. 

The aim of this campaign was to publicly unpick and discredit TV Licensing's propaganda about the virtually non-existent threat of search warrants. As we've said before, much to the amusement of our learned friend TheJesusofKayaking, discrediting TV Licensing is as easy as shooting rats drowning in a barrel of piss. This latest campaign has proved no exception to that rule.

We drafted a template letter, which we published in an earlier post. We asked readers to adjust the template so it related to their local Sheriff Court and then submit it to the Scottish Court Service as a request for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. In Scotland the Sheriff Court is responsible for dealing with TV Licensing search warrant applications and court cases.

It is still early days, but the responses received so far show a definite trend: TV Licensing has not applied for any search warrants in several major inner-city Scottish Sheriff Courts since 1st January 2011. The responses received so far apply to the Sheriff Courts in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy. All of the responses take the same format, which you can view here.

In the 2011, the last official statistics available, the population of Scotland was just shy of 5.3 million. The Sheriff Courts in question serve almost 2 million individuals. In other words, having sampled almost 40 % of the Scottish population (about a quarter of whom are under the age of 18 or over the age of 75) there is not one instance of TV Licensing having applied for a search warrant since 1st January 2011.

That, we're sure you'll agree, is statistically quite significant. It would suggest that TV Licensing apply for a infinitesimally small number of search warrants in Scotland, if any at all.

We are very grateful to the Scottish Court Service for having provided such timely and efficient responses to our information requests. We encourage readers to stay tuned for the results of our investigation into TV Licensing search warrant applications in England and Wales, which we hope to publish shortly.

TV Licensing in Scotland: All bark, no bite at all.

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Sunday, 27 July 2014

TV Licensing: What To Expect In Court

A few days ago we were contacted by a reader who was clearly distressed about receiving TV Licensing's "What To Expect In Court" threatogram.

The reader, who we'll call Anna, recently moved into a new student house with two of her university friends. About a fortnight into the excitement and security of her new home, the wind was taken out of Anna's sails when she received a copy of TV Licensing's most menacing threatogram to date.

A TV licence is only required for those properties where equipment is used to receive TV programme services (that is any programme broadcast on a normal TV channel, which is simultaneously available to other viewing members of the public). Anna does not legally require a TV licence and nor do any of her housemates.

The letter, shown above (it's an old image, but that's still the current format), is designed to intimidate TV Licensing non-respondents by threatening them with court action, for an offence they probably haven't committed. Their only "crime" is to have ignored TV Licensing's previous requests for information - despite the Licensing Authority, the BBC, having confirmed that non-TV users are under no obligation to respond to any of TV Licensing's mailings.

Close examination of the letter shows it has been carefully crafted to look official and sound as menacing as possible. The implication of the letter is clear, but the threats are diluted with the words "may" and "if". The BBC has previously confirmed that it checks, authorises and condones the wording of every TV Licensing routine letter.

For anyone left in any doubt at all, the way the BBC and TV Licensing enforce the licence fee is truly despicable. As we have seen time and time again they hide behind legal jargon, half-truths and veiled threats to coerce licence fee payment, often where none is due. If you ask them any uncomfortable questions about the seemingly indiscriminate way they enforce the fee then they hide behind the law to avoid answering. This is despite the BBC Trust saying it would take action to temper TV Licensing's accusatory tone.

Anyone who genuinely doesn't receive TV programmes can safely discard TV Licensing letters where they belong - the bin or shredder. We strongly recommend they ignore all TV Licensing correspondence and employees, as co-operating with TV Licensing is often a futile exercise and provides them with information they aren't legally entitled to.

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Friday, 25 July 2014

TV Licensing Detector Van Collision: BBC Denies Knowledge

Today we're again highlighting the serious lack of communication and transparency between TV Licensing contractor Capita and their BBC bosses.

As you might remember, back in March 2014 we described how a TV Licensing "detector van" was involved in a collision with another vehicle. Video footage clearly shows that the white VW Transporter van, registration number VX09 VEK, made contact with the other vehicle on at least three separate occasions. The driver of the other vehicle, who had earlier observed the occupants of the van conducting surveillance on his property, had pursued the van in an effort to establish the identities of the shady-looking characters inside.

Before going any further can we make it perfectly clear, for the benefit of the BBC and Capita stooges reading this, that we do not doubt for one moment that the van involved was a TV Licensing detector van. Furthermore, we do not doubt that the occupants of that van were Capita employees conducting surveillance authorised by the BBC.

Using the Freedom of Information Act 2000 we asked the BBC to provide us with any information it held about this TV Licensing detector van collision. The BBC has previously confirmed that it retains ownership of all TV detection equipment, so we reasoned that Capita might have told the BBC that the van had been damaged in mysterious circumstances. Given the quality of driving captured in the video, it would not have been unreasonable for Capita to at least warn the BBC of the risk of negative publicity.

In their response to our request, which can be read here, the BBC denies holding any information about this incident. This seems a bit unusual, because we know that the BBC spent hours reading our blog post all about it back in March. Supposing, for one small hypothetical moment, that the BBC really doesn't hold any information - that would suggest that Capita "forgot" to inform the BBC that the van was involved in a collision. We are reminded of the Hartlepool incident, where Capita similarly forgot to inform the BBC that one of their goons was being investigated by the police over allegations he'd tried to force his way into a residential property.

Given the inconsistencies in the BBC's response we have asked them to conduct an internal review. We wait with bated breath for the outcome!

BBC TV Licensing Annual Review 2013/14

The BBC has just published its TV Licensing Annual Review 2013/14.

TV Licensing is a trade mark used by the companies contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of TV licence fees and enforcement of the TV licence system. The BBC, as the statutory Television Licensing Authority, retains overall responsibility for all aspects of the TV Licensing operation, which includes the despicable way it terrorises legitimate non-TV viewers in their homes.

The 15-page Annual Review is a clear attempt to promote the BBC's misguided belief that TV Licensing delivers an efficient and cost-effective service to licence-fee-payers. 

In particular, the BBC asserts that complaints about TV Licensing have fallen 10 % over the past year, the cost of collecting the licence-fee stands at an all time low of 2.7 pence in the pound and the evasion rate stands at an all time low of 5-6 %. The BBC also claims that TV Licensing PR campaigns, like that recently targeted at campers and caravanners, have reached out to 82 % of the population. 

In the last year the BBC's TV Licensing "policy team", whatever that is, responded to an average of 17 Freedom of Information requests per month, most of which were from people like us. In our experience, which is not highlighted in the Annual Review, they failed to respond to a similar number. Almost 72 % of TV licence holders pay by Direct Debit and we're willing to bet that most of those don't realise that it actually costs them more to pay by that method.

If you'd like to read the BBC's TV Licensing Annual Review 2013/14 you can download it here.

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